Community Audit

Southern 14 LWIB Community Audit Project

 

Community Audit

County Level Details

 

The Regional Infrastructure Review is an inventory of infrastructure assets in Local Workforce Investment Area 26.

Included are the following:

  • General Information
  • Natural Resources
  • Agriculture
  • Transportation
  • Telecommunications Capabilities
  • Recreational Data

 

Illinois counties represented in this area include: Alexander, Edwards, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, and White.

Southern 14 Regional Infrastructure Review (pdf)

PSAE Scores Supplement 1027 (pdf)

 

UPDATES: Southern 14 LWIB Community Audit Project Summary

The Southern 14 Workforce Investment Board, Inc. held three successful roll-out events to announce the findings of their Community Audit. The Community Audit was the culmination of two years of research and development regarding the state of the local workforce, economy, infrastructure, and educational attainment of the counties of Alexander, Edwards, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, and White in Southern Illinois. The events were held at Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg, at Frontier College in Fairfield, and at Shawnee Community College in Ullin. These three locations were chosen to make the events easily accessible to all those who live in the 14-county area. One roll-out event was held in each of the three geographic tiers of the Workforce Investment Area. Over 100 community, business, industry, and educational leaders attended a roll-out event. The crowds were enthusiastic and optimistic about the future of the Southern 14 region.

 

Ginger McBride, Taskforce Committee Consultant, created the Executive Summary of the Community Audit report and presented that information at the roll-out events. The goal was to familiarize the public with the Community Audit and the findings contained therein. Each participant was provided with a copy of the Executive Summary and instructed about how to receive a copy of the full Community Audit.

 

Another purpose of the roll-out events was to enlist the help of “champions” for the causes identified in the audit as being urgent issues for the WIB to address. Many area leaders agreed to participate in taskforce committee meetings and to work together to come up with strategies to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Representatives from all corners of the Southern 14 region participated in the taskforce committee meetings and championed the causes identified by the Community Audit.

 

Southern 14 WIB, Inc. incorporated its challenge areas into three broad categories. Those categories included Education, Economic Development, and Communication. It was believed that focusing on those three broad areas would provide a good direction for future work in the region. As planning for taskforce committee meetings proceeded, it became clear that a merge of the three taskforce committees would provide for the most comprehensive strategies and would bring together individuals and organizations in such a way that had not been effectively done before. These meetings allowed diverse communities to join together to seek solutions that crossed traditional boundaries. They provided for unique perspectives to workforce development that gave all participants a new appreciation for the challenges faced by others working in the region. Education leaders were afforded the opportunity to look at the issues from the perspective of economic development leaders and vice versa.

 

The Taskforce Committee Consultant also spoke at civic events that were not formal taskforce meetings, but served the same purpose, to engage the community in finding the directions for future workforce development and to educate the public about the findings of the Community Audit.

 

Though the participants were diverse, the results of all taskforce committee meetings were strikingly similar. At each event, the participants decided that the issues of Education, Economic Development, and Communication were inextricably linked. Finding strategies to improve educational achievement and attainment would inevitably lead to a better prepared workforce, thereby providing a means for boosting local economic development opportunities, and so forth. And tackling any of these issues effectively, with good community participation, would require the WIB to communicate better. That communication would have to be internal as well as external. Internally, the board provided training for its board members, to ensure that they fully understood the role they were chosen to fill. To improve communication with the public, the WIB staff began using a website. Allowing the public access to the board, its members, and its resources via the website, opened up a wealth of possibilities to make the board a better known entity in the region.

 

The taskforce committees considered several different directions for their work resulting from the Community Audit. The importance of creating a business service position to join the WIB staff was considered to be a good starting point for addressing economic development issues. It was recognized that many other WIAs have business service personnel to help with attracting and retaining area businesses. Other strategies included the need to gain strong involvement of Regional Offices of Education and to focus on implementing programs at the youth level. One such strategy was to look at the possibility of implementing a program similar to Junior Achievement in local school districts.

 

Participants were also very interested in looking for ways to implement the Work Certified program in area middle and high schools. Work Certified is a job-readiness program that came to the area as a result of Governor Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns initiative. In that initiative WIA #s 25 and 26 were combined to form the Southern Economic Development Region. That region worked cooperatively on the Critical Skills Shortage Initiative. CSSI focused on intervening in designated areas where there were found to be critical shortages of skilled workers. The areas designated for CSSI funding in the Southern Economic Development Region were healthcare and manufacturing. The Work Certified program was chosen as training for entry-level manufacturing employees. Although massive layoffs and plant closings in Southern Illinois impacted the number of employees wanting to prepare for jobs in manufacturing, the Work Certified program was still considered a quality pre-employment training program. Taskforce Committee members expressed great interest in seeing Work Certified being used to prepare young people for employment in any sector. Since the CSSI funding was for adult services, the grant could not be used to implement the program with youth. The committee members continued to echo the desire for such training for area youth. Topics of discussion regarding this strategy focused on the importance of finding school districts that were ready for such a program. Many local districts are already so overwhelmed with trying to meet standards under the No Child Left Behind legislation, that any diversion from that purpose, however well-intentioned it might be, would be self-defeating.

 

Subsequent taskforce meetings included other options, such as the creation of “career clubs” for young people. The underlying theme for all taskforce meetings was that the best strategies would all begin early enough to instill good work ethics BEFORE employees enter the workforce. The consensus of the group was, again and again, that in order to create real opportunity in Southern Illinois, there had to be a systemic change in the way young people view careers. The belief was that in order to make Southern Illinois attractive to new businesses and industries, there must be a clear communication pathway between employers and educators to start cultivating the type of workforce that will meet the demands of the future

 

The conclusion of the taskforce committee meetings were that 1) a program focused on instilling work ethic and career understanding in youth at an early age was key, 2) that program would have to be piloted in a particular school atmosphere, one that had the full cooperation of the district and regional administration, and 3) that it would be necessary to seek out funding outside of WIA to make such a program available to entire cohorts of youth, rather than WIA eligible youth only. These three elements will be the focus of future efforts by the WIB to create a more capable, skilled workforce. The work started by the taskforce committees is only the beginning of a process. The groundwork for success has been laid; implementation of those strategies will determine the lasting impact of the project

 

Individuals Participating in Taskforce Committee Meetings

Chris Howton

James Darden

Jim Murphy

Candy Eastwood

Ginger McBride

Susan Odum

Michael Moore

Ronald Duncan

Kim Watson

Brett Whitnel

Mike Woley

Mike Farrow

Sandy Goldman

Donna Raynolds

Auna Searcy

Larry Choate

Ron Weedon

Laura Franklin

Cindy Orgon

Tammy Brock

Royce Carter

Jody Johnson

Elmo Jones

Lori Cox

Arnold Williams

Roger Boma

Joe Bisch

Ginnie Hartman

Sara Pence

Jim Deen

Jim Taylor

Dick Dietz

 

Organizations Represented at Taskforce Committee Meetings

Southern 14 Workforce Investment Board, Inc.

Wabash Area Development, Inc.

Shawnee Development Council

Mid-5 Employment and Training

Southeastern Illinois Regional Planning Commission

Carter Consulting

Massac County

City of Grayville

Illinois Eastern Community Colleges/ Frontier Community College

Hamilton County

City of McLeansboro

Regional Office of Education #20

Southernmost Illinois Delta Empowerment Zone (SIDEZ)

Total Quality Management Systems

IL- DCEO

Southeastern Illinois College

Southeastern Illinois College- Workforce & Small Business Development Center

University of Illinois Extension

University of Illinois Extension- AJMPU

Meridian Community Unit District #101

Shawnee Community College- Office of the President

Shawnee Community College- Office of the V.P. / Institutional & Economic Dev.

Shawnee Community College- Alternative/ Adult Education

Shawnee Community College- Business & Industry Training

Shawnee Community College- Small Business Development